Friday, April 26, 2013

If I'm Not Writing, I'm...

-at the local YMCA where I meet my Zumba sisters, hang out with the Pilates crowd, and try not drop a weight on my toe in the Body Sculpt class.

-cuddling the Fur Babies--Tonks and Mischief need lots of attention.

-shopping for groceries, cooking meals, preparing high energy and low calorie snacks.

-entertain the Physicist's colleagues.

-attend and/or host a monthly book club.

-cleaning the house--it's a big house and I'm the current Commander in Chief of House.

-talking on the phone with my friends in other countries and states.

-traveling with the Physicist to see our friends or just have a romantic getaway.

-managing the household budget and bills--another struggle.

-texting the College Kid and sending her pictures of cool stuff.

-taking care of the College Kid, going to doctor appointments with her, trying to help her find the balance she needs to live a long and full life that's filled with happiness.

-wrangling medical information, insurance information, the CK's long distance medical issues.

-running a contest for my writing chapter.

-helping my Goal in a Month group as a scheduler.

-decorating the house with fun little bits of whimsy.

-looking for interesting recipes to try out on the family.

-planning my getaways.

-yard work--the struggle is real.

-hiding in my tornado shelter with the fur babies.

-reading a great book.

-fritzing around on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitterville.

-meeting a friend for lunch.

-encouraging others and listening to them.

-critiquing and beta reading books.

-running a gazillion errands.

-watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.

-watching movies with the family.

-going to friends' houses for dinners and drinks.

-just being.

What do you do when you're not where you're supposed to be?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Great Expectations

On Monday I wrote about my tools to battle back the world pressing in and battling the demons of doubt and despair. Part of the reason I'm so tough on myself right now is I have set the bar very high this year. And another large part of the reason I am driving myself so hard is I've redirected the focus of my writing energy.

This is the first year I have taken a sabbatical from entering contests. I love contests. They give me deadlines. They validate me as a writer. They provide useful feedback. Last year I was a Triple Finalist and winner of the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. I've experience lots of high moments with other contests as well. I love contests so much I decided to help my Southern Magic Romance Writers out by coordinating the Linda Howard Award of Excellence this year.

So why have I sworn off contests? Easy answer: they focus my energy only on the first three chapters of the book and, in some cases, the synopsis. And I have a different goal this year. I want to polish and hone three full manuscripts to the best of my abilities at this point.

I want to take what I've learned during the last two years and implement that knowledge. I want to revise my full manuscripts with my new writing eyes. Eyes that see things differently. Eyes that understand what is expected of the manuscript's promise. And eyes that are HONEST about the quality of the writing.

I also want to take two monthlong online courses that will require me to expend my energy in learning more about the business side of the publication industry and more about the craft of writing a complex novel.

My critique partner says I'm harder on myself than anyone else. She's right. I wouldn't be where I am as a writer and as a person if I didn't push myself to succeed. But I also strive to have a balanced life. A life that includes hanging out with people who aren't writers, spending time with the Physicist on the Veranda, and building my relationship with the College Kid as she transitions from home to the world.

So if I want that balance and I want to achieve all of my goals, I must say no to something that isn't necessary to my life as a writer. And as much as I crave the validation of a contest final, I know in my heart that my time is better spent shaping my novels into amazing stories and generating new stories and building strong bonds with my family.

Have your personal and professional goals changed? Why?

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Outside World Presses In

Writing is a solitary profession. Period. Yes, we can meet with our writing colleagues at meetings and gather at conferences, but for the most part we act alone. No one can write our books for us. No one can revise our first drafts for us. And no one can force us to query or submit even when we are filled with doubts about achieving our goals.

Published or unpublished, we all fight demons. For the published authors there are real deadlines. That's great. Puts a fire under one's bottom and presses that author to work.

But me? No one is waiting for me to meet any deadlines right now. So I have to set my own deadlines which, to be honest, have been shifting daily due to outside world pressure and different expectations of myself as a writer.

I'm working hard, but real life has pressed in and I've had to fight for my writing time. Occasionally, I have to surrender to the outside pressure because it's immediate and important and intrinsic to the well-being of my family. And every interruption to my schedule impacts my ability to get back in the chair and diligently pursue a publication career.

And then there are my own demons. Personal ones that every writer, published and unpublished, struggle with all the time. Am I good enough? Have I really got what it takes to write well and write much? Did I say no to an opportunity only to lose the one chance I might have had to be published? Did I start too late? Is the story I'm working on right now good enough? Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting my family's time? Will I ever get paid for sitting here at this computer for hours on end to generate stories and ideas and more?

Do I care about the answers to these questions? Of course I care. However, I live in a delusional, imaginary world so I propose my own answers to these questions all the time. I need to otherwise I might quit. And if I quit, I reject myself.

Here are my answers: I become a stronger writer every time I sit down to write. I am a self-motivated and self-disciplined person who has the drive to work hard and work smart. There's more than one way to get published and I'm not shy about looking down every avenue. I have a wealth of experience to draw from whenever I sit down to write a story. My current story will become better as I continue to revise it and mold it into shape. If I am happy doing what I am doing, the time I put into it doesn't matter. My family is proud of my endeavors and they support me just as I am proud of their endeavors and support them. I will get paid for generating these stories because I have a plan of action which I am actively pursuing every day.

How do you beat back the world pressing in? How do you fight the demons of doubt and despair?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Larynn Ford's Debut Novel IN MY WILDEST DREAMS

Debut Author Larynn Ford
Hi Everyone! I met Larynn Ford at a Southern Magic Romance Writer's chapter meeting. She's a lovely person and man has she moved fast into the realm of publication!! I couldn't wait to interview her about her debut release IN MY WILDEST DREAMS when I heard she'd signed a contract with Soul Mate Publishing. Her paranormal romance is the first book she's ever written and she's proof that everyone has a different journey toward publication. Please join me in welcoming Larynn to the Veranda! 


Larynn, I'm so glad you're here to share your story toward publication. Tell me, how did you end up becoming a writer?
It was actually reading that led me to the idea of writing. A friend gave me her copy of Twilight to read on vacation. “You have got to read this. It is so good,” she said. Since I hadn’t read in a while, it took a bit but when I got into it, I couldn’t get enough. I craved paranormal and sought out as much as I could read. I’m following at least twelve different series now and somewhere along the way I thought how much fun it would be to create a fantasy world and bring my own characters to life. So began IN MY WILDEST DREAMS.
Wow! That's so wonderful that one person's book recommendation lead to sparking your desire to write. What is your favorite genre to write?
Paranormal romance.
Of course!! It's your inspiration. Are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
Plotting can only get me so far (maybe I’m doing it wrong). For me, it’s the sudden, unexpected spark of an idea that gets the words flowing.
Everyone has a different process. From what I've learned, most writers think each book they write has a different process toward the end result. So after you're done writing, how do you relax? 
I sleep.
Sleeping is good. I love to sleep whenever I can. When you're not sleeping or writing, what do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
I fell in love with paranormal romance in 2006 and enjoy reading Christine Feehan, Kerrilyn Sparks, Charlaine Harris, and Lindsay Sands to mention a few.
I adore all these authors. They're wonderful storytellers. Tell me, what is your current project?
IN MY WILDEST DREAMS, release day April 17.
 And afterward will you  have any new releases? (For later)
My current WIP is called RESCUED, a paranormal romance about a couple of P I’s (were-cougars) hired to investigate the disappearance of young people. Their findings lead them to discover a widespread operation to harvest and sell body parts. Along the way they discover fate has decided they are life mates and they must deal with their attraction while solving the case.
Oooohhhh, how cool!! I love the premise. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
 Sometimes, I call on my own memories and say, “What if…” Sometimes a song lyric or in the case of RESCUED, the blue eyes and long, thick, blond lashes of the singer set a scene into motion and the story blossomed from there.
Stories I heard as a child or something as simple as a bridge on Highway 80 that haunts me every time I drive by and begs for its story to be written. Ideas are everywhere.
That's so true, Larynn. Ideas are everywhere. I'm glad you were able to turn your idea into a story. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
I wrote my first words on June 12, 2009 and signed my first contract on May 21, 2012.
Bam!! Super fast!! I'm so excited for you. How did you celebrate the new book contract?
I checked email before I left for work that morning and found the offer then. After I caught my breath, stopped the happy tears, and calmed down enough to drive, I went to work… with a permanent smile on my face.
A permanent smile sounds lovely. Do you have an agent?
I don’t at this point have an agent. I’m just getting my feet wet with the whole road to publication. I think I need to wade in little deeper before thinking about an agent. As I learn more about the business, I may change my mind…we’ll see.
Yes. There are pros and cons and each writer must make her/his decisions about their career accordingly. Good for you that you're adaptable. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Finding the time. I work a more than full time job and am wiped out by the time I get home so weekends and an occasional sprint at lunch are my most productive writing times.
I'm in awe of your dedication to writing given that you have a day job. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
The best advice I got was read, write, read, write. Sounds too simple and I was skeptical but reading really does answer many writing questions
Reading is my muse. All genres. Excellent advice. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
Never give up. Rejection only means the right person hasn’t read your work yet.

Never give and never surrender are my daily mantras. Thank you so much for popping over to the Veranda to celebrate your debut novel release IN MY WILDEST DREAMS. May all good things continue to come your way. And looking forward to the next book's release as well.

Larynn Ford's book IN MY WILDEST DREAMS can be purchased at the following sites:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Post Vacation-itis: Or Creatively Avoiding Revisions

I just returned from a lovely visit to White Rock, British Columbia where I spent a week shopping, watching movies, hanging out with my best friend since forever-ago, and giggling at nothing and everything.

Writing was not on the agenda. Other than the flight out to Seattle, I took a break from my usually strong writing schedule. And that's a good thing--I needed it in loads of ways. However, now that I'm home from my fantastic getaway, I am having trouble getting my brain out of creative home decorating and clothes shopping mode.

That's rare for me, but it does occur. Oh, I've thought about the current story I'm revising. I've discussed it with my CP on the phone. I've made a few notes. But I didn't open the document in question until yesterday. Then I looked at it and thought: ugh, it needs SO MUCH WORK before it is where I want it to be as a story.

Yah. Love my process. I go through many stages. The Thrill of First Draft Writing is often followed by the Avoidance Stage of Revision and then I go deep into the Rebellion Stage of Revision.

The Rebellion Stage of Revision is often accentuated with a "I just submitted a story again, and now I am Obsessively Compulsively having a Love-Hate Relationship with my email in-box." My mind is very distracted; filled with memories of lazy and fun days as well as wondering and worrying about the current submission's fate.

I go through a "why am I doing this to myself when I could be decorating the house or shopping for cute clothes or playing with my friends" stage. Usually I push out of it very quickly, but I had the joy of being "normal" for a week and it's hard to force myself to get back into the process of revising.

How will I combat this Rebellion Stage? The usual way. Creative Avoidance. I'll read my CP's pages and critique them first. I'll catch up on all my writing organization volunteer duties (which are minimal, but still require my attention). Then I'll rework my quarterly goals (it's that time again) as well as straighten out the office. Finally, I'll tiptoe back into the story I currently think is in serious need of a intravenous injection of life.

Baby steps. Yesterday I opened the document and peeked at it. Today I will start layering and incorporating some of the notes I made about the story's direction into the main document. Soon I'll be operating on my normal schedule. By the end of the week I expect I'll be finished the first three chapters and will send them off to my CP.

I set a deadline for everything. Sometimes the deadlines shift due to circumstances or other demands, but in general I meet them. Oh, this blog post? Yes. It's another way of creatively avoiding my revisions.

How do you bust through Revision Rebellion?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shops & Lemon Drops

I'm in British Columbia and it's absolutely stunning here. The views are fantastic. The trees are blooming huge pops of colorful pink and white flowers. Green trees in various shades are beginning to bud. Tall ever greens reach to the sky during rain and shine.

But I'm not going on a nature hike.

I'm shopping--virtually and in reality. So far I've purchased new bedding, a cool soft blanket and taken tons of pictures of pillows, chairs, decorating items and ideas. I really need new clothes, too, but opportunity knocked and I answered. I'll show you the new stuff when I get it home and have it all arranged.

I'm also visiting with friends. And as a result of the visiting, I've learned to love the Lemon Drop martini. MMMMM. I have the recipe on my Pinterest board. I'll share that when I get home as well.

All my recent juggling of my two worlds in Facebook has made it difficult to upload pictures directly to my new FB account. Grrr & hiss. But despite this minor challenge, I've tiptoed into yet another realm of social media called Tumblr. Not really sure if I should--the College Kid's realm really, but I'm trying to be more patient with technology and who knows? I might write a YA series one day. Of course, by then all the young folk will have run to another social media because it's been infiltrated by their parents  (much like Facebook) .

I tried to add a theme. Not sure if I did or not. I tried to follow John Green. I don't think I am. And I tried to repost a post. Didn't succeed. Why am I doing this to myself?

A. I sort of have time to play with it.
B. I'm not in writer mode. Though I am layering in a few words into the first three chapters of a new book.
C. I'm delusional about my ability to learn this monster of techno nerdfighter stuff.
D. I've been influenced by my lemon drop martinis to attempt new things.

You decide. Are you on Tumblr? Do you like it? Is Tumblr only for the young and crazy? Or can a Romance Writer with a College Kid who is also a Nerdfighter learn new tricks?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Playing Hooky--Time Out for Good Behavior

I've been working hard. Writing and revising and critiquing and contest wrangling and... and that's just the writing part of my life. There has been plenty to keep me busy in my personal life as well. That's the writer's journey. We're juggling families, day jobs, careers, writing, and more.

But now I get to take a break.

I'm going to visit my best friend in British Columbia. I can't wait to get on the plane and fly to Seattle. Then we'll drive over the border and spend time just "being friends." We'll shop, decorate via virtual reality, visit with family, play, explore, shop again.

This is a friend I've know for most of my life. There are secrets between us that we will carry into eternity. She was there for me when I was struggling with my fertility issues--even offered to carry a baby for me which just shows you what kind of awesomeness she is like. And she celebrated my pregnancy and the birth of my darling daughter by coming to the USA and helping me adjust to parenthood.

We've raised children to adulthood (though we are perpetually young LOL). We've gone on vacations together with the growing children. In fact, I remember one interesting time where we changed into our bikinis for a Water Country USA visit while in the long line of cars as we waited to enter the water park. Yes. We. Did. We are just that brave. At least I feel that brave when I am with her. She's fearless and fun.

And we have memories--a lifetime of them that undergird us and strengthen our friendship despite the time and distance that separates us.

Now I'm going to go make more memories with my friend. And maybe, just maybe, I might blog about it. Or maybe, just maybe, I might be too busy power shopping and giggling and having fun to visit the Veranda until I return in 8 days.

I'm excited about the break. What do you do to reward yourself for good behavior?